A gift should be for life, not just for Christmas.
In the first part of the Indie & Pop Christmas Shopping Edits I’m shining a halo over 5 of my favourite Cambridge independent boutiques; a where to shop not necessarily what to shop because each of these retailers have such an incredible curation of pieces that you simply cannot go wrong.
So much so, it’s where Mr O goes to guarantee gift joy. This post might be one to print off & stick somewhere obvious…
If you’re after something thoughtful, unique or extra special these are the best places to start full stop. I’ve included some of my personal favourite pieces to give you a flavour & for entirely selfish purposes (Read: Hints for my Husband, but he already knows where to go 😉 ) as well as dates for your Diary & a few offers.
Now, you don’t have to be a local resident – this isn’t Royston Vasey – to get hold of these rare wares either because each of these stores has items available by e-commerce sites or by giving the store a call – remember what phones were invented for? Anything to make Christmas Shopping a more relaxed & personable affair is a fine (& underrated) thing.
I can wholeheartedly vouch for each & every Business owner or their Staff to give you the highest levels of Customer Service because I know them personally &/or have shopped with them for years – some for over a decade.
I know the passion they have for their businesses, how hard they work & the efforts they go to in ensuring your shopping satisfaction. Your loyalty will be rewarded in ways which no High Street retailer will ever *quite* be able to replicate – be sure sign up to their Mailing Lists & reward schemes too for discounts, promotions & stock updates.
I’m giving away all of my best (not so) secrets here…
This is the place I go when I want something for myself with a WOW factor. Something with a story & standout style; contemporary yet utterly timeless. Statement pieces that are ‘Sell Out’ items across the land often land here first. One of the finest examples of this are the blink-&-you’ll-miss-it collections by RIXO London. Expect pieces by Ba&Sh, Custommade & Baum & Pfergarten amid the industrial rails; accessories by Rose Rankin, Mercules & artisan jewellery & fragrances in the eclectic mix.
Owner Sinead offers the warmest Irish welcome from her Studio-style Boutique in the charming & historic setting of Rose Crescent. Last week saw the stores 2nd Birthday celebrations & there’s a limited Birthday offer discount but hurry!
Indie (& Pop) Picks
Home & Interiors
Now, strictly speaking, the doors of this Green Street Homewares favourite may now be closed but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the lifestyle chic of Catesbys in person. This very Weekend (18th-19th November) Jonathan & Neil are living up to their ‘Hosts with Most’ reputation once more by opening the doors to their own stunning home in Rutland.
This is the stuff of interiors dreams; like stepping into a magazine editorial that you can shop directly from. I would highly recommend sending an R.S.V.P promptly to gain entry to their Grotto for Grown-Ups & enjoy the most comfortable Christmas shopping you will have ever experienced. We’re hoping to be there tomorrow *crosses fingers*.
I first discovered Catesbys in Wells-Next-The-Sea & on a private indies tour with Anne of Independent Cambridge discovered they had moved to the city centre & an in-house Cafe soon followed before their re-location. Thankfully, the wealth of beautiful & useful pieces can still be purchased via their virtual shop www.catesbys.co.uk & I get my daily fix of their style over on Instagram: @catesbys
Indie (& Pop) Picks
firstname.lastname@example.org (to R.S.V.P – email@example.com)
It’s got to the stage where I’m running out of superlatives to describe Pippa & her cornerstone-of-my-closet Boutique, Boudoir Femme. Every year, without fail, this is where Mr O goes to find something for me for Christmas. Every single thing he has ever bought me (or I have bought myself) I still wear to this day.
Shopping at Boudoir Femme is essentially like having your own Personal Stylist or Personal Shopper. If you’re forever in search of the ‘perfect’ jeans/t-shirt/sweater… this is where
you’ll find Pippa will have found the solution. Look at these pieces as investments that will pay for themselves; things that you will love & that will last.
Designers include M.i.h Jeans, American Vintage, Scotch & Soda, Gestuz, Lily & Lionel with an amazing array of accessories, jewellery, gifts & fragrance. There’s a Christmas Shopping Evening on 23rd November.
There’s up to 30% off on selected M.i.h Jeans at the moment!
Indie (& Pop) Picks
01223 323 000
With her background in luxury Fashion & finger on the pulse of the latest in contemporary design, Laura has the best Childrenswear Boutique around these parts by more than a fair few country miles.
Initially set up as an online retailer after spotting a gap (read: gaping hole) in the area for quality childrens’ clothing, POCO Kids has gone from strength to strength with its’ offering at a perfectly formed pint-sized premises on King Street. These are clothes that your children will want to wear again & again often with a quirky design element, always cool.
Premium & Organic lines are worth investing in when possible; don’t assume you can’t afford ‘Designer’ pieces because when you buy better, you buy a lot less (1 pair of leggings will outlast 3 or 4 decent High Street pairs; I’ve tested this a lot) . I’ve recently passed on many things to friends from P’s outgrown items & anything that I got from POCO Kids has fared especially well.
There will be 20% off over the Black Friday Weekend.
Lifestyle Emporium ‘Gifts for interesting people’
It’s so much more than just a store, ARK is essentially Cambridge’s own mini Liberty – in fact you can find ARK products in the famous London Department store itself; I felt the ’emporium’ description was more appropriate.
An ever evolving indie, the very first piece of furniture Mr O & I bought was from their first premises many years ago (a vintage sideboard/Radiogram by PYE, but sadly it’s no longer with us). Retail reincarnations have incorporated vintage clothing & various premises but everything is now housed beautifully in Peas Hill.
The merchandising is always superb & inspiring; the staff are always smiling & happy to help. You can never be certain of what you might find & that is part of its unique charm. Their website is a fun way to navigate the wares but I’d high recommend visiting them for the full experience though I warn you – you will not leave empty handed!
1-2 Peas Hill, Cambridge. CB2 3PP
What are your favourite indie boutiques? I’d love to hear about them & am always on the look out over on Instagram: @sophosborne
You can find them all there, too: @elegantatelier @boudoirfemme @arkcambridge_ @catesbys @pocokids
I hope you’ve found some inspiration & motivation to visit some alternatives to the overwhelmingly crowded malls. As the person who does the bulk of our Christmas Shopping & someone who gets anxious (& sweaty) in crowds I’d be lost without the indies!
There’ll be more posts soon on what I’ll be buying this Christmas from the best in both independent & High Street retailers as well as a more personal post about what’s been going on with my health lately but thank you all so much for your kind messages & thoughtful gifts; you’ve helped me get through.